LeBron James and David Blatt.
(photo credit: GREGORY SHAMUS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
The five nominees who made the shortlist for The Jerusalem Post’s Israeli Sports Personality of the Year all come from different fields, but they all have one thing in common.
They all experienced extraordinary years, recording historic sporting achievements.
Last year’s winner, David Blatt, is among the final candidates yet again, but he will have to overcome stiff competition if he’s to become the first back-to-back winner.
Triple jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko and Paralympic rower Moran Samuel are both first-time nominees, with Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Eran Zahavi part of the shortlist for a third straight year.
Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi is hoping to win the title for the second time after claiming the honors in 2009.
Other former winners include Paralympic gold medalist Noam Gershony (2012), windsurfer Lee Korzits (2011), Shahar Pe’er (2007, 2010) and Paralympic swimmer Inbal Pezaro (2008).
The winner will be revealed in the January 1 issue of this newspaper and we are asking you, the readers, to help choose the individual who will be named The Jerusalem Post Israeli Sports Personality of the Year.
Readers can vote until December 30 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org (Nominees are introduced by alphabetical order)
Such was Cleveland’s start to last season that Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was forced to speak to the media at the beginning of January and insist first-year coach Blatt wasn’t going anywhere, despite speculation that a rift had developed.
That seems like a long time ago now, with Blatt ultimately guiding the Cavs to the NBA Finals, only being beaten by the Golden State Warriors after losing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to injuries.
Cleveland is also on course to end 2015 with the best record in the East and very few people are questioning the 56-year-old Israeli-American now.Omri Casspi
Casspi began the year on the fringe of Sacramento’s rotation but ends it as a legitimate starter in the NBA. The 27-yearold forward did enough to earn a twoyear, $6 million contract extension in the summer and he has already more than proven his worth, averaging career bests of 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists through the team’s first 28 games.
Also the Israel national team’s star in its EuroBasket 2015 campaign, averaging 16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists, Casspi helped the blue-and-white progress past the first round of the competition for the first time since 2007 before losing to Italy in the round of 16.Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko
Knyazyeva-Minenko became just the second Israeli to win a medal at the athletics world championships this past summer, recording a new national record on the way to the silver medal in the women’s triple jump final in Beijing.
The 26-year-old finished in second place with a leap of 14.78 meters, a seven-centimeter improvement to her previous best which she set when she still represented Ukraine three years ago.
Pole vaulter Alex Averbukh is the only other Israeli to have scaled the podium at the world championships, winning a bronze in 1999 and a silver in 2001.Moran Samuel
Samuel registered the biggest achievement of her career this year and solidified her place as one of Israel’s best medal hopes at next summer’s Rio Paralympics, claiming the gold medal in the arms-shoulders single scull 1,000-meter competition at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France.
Samuel, who trains at the Daniel Rowing Center in Tel Aviv, has been paralyzed from the waist down since 2006 due a rare spinal stroke originating from a congenital disorder.
Samuel’s success has also been recognized internationally, with the 33-yearold Israeli being selected as the 2015 World Rowing Para Athlete of the Year.Eran Zahavi
As well as inspiring Maccabi Tel Aviv to a third straight Premier League championship in 2014/15, Eran Zahavi almost singlehandedly led the yellow-and-blue to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 11 years.
Zahavi, who led the league in scoring for a second straight season with 27 goals, scored seven goals in five qualifiers, including all three his team managed in the playoffs against Basel, as well as both goals in the 2-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic in the second leg of the third qualifying round.
The 28-year-old forward has also maintained his remarkable scoring record in the league so far in 2015/16, finding the back of the net 14 times in his team’s first 15 league games to keep Maccabi in the hunt for a fourth straight Premier League title.
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